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JIS Teachers Arrested over Alleged Rapes

by Michael Bachelard
JIS Teachers Arrested over Alleged Rapes

Accused of rape: Canadian schoolteacher Neil Bantleman, with his wife Tracy. Photo: Michael Bachelard
An earlier version of this article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 7, 2014; it is reprinted here with the permission of the author. Michael Bachelard is Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax Media. Disclosure: two of his children attend Jakarta International School.
Two schoolteachers who were arrested for the alleged rapes of children at the prestigious Jakarta International School (JIS) have been detained without charge in the police lock-up for a further month, but they have not been questioned since July 14.
Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teacher’s aide Ferdinant Tjiong insist they are innocent. They are being supported in their claims by their families and the school.
Mr Bantleman said from the police prison in Jakarta on Wednesday that he believed the children making the allegations had been coached to identify a white, expatriate teacher as an abuser to increase the pressure on the school to settle a financial claim of US$125 million.
“I think there are bigger things at play; quite possibly money, the hope of a big payoff – [the hope] that you can implicate teachers and then the school has that responsibility to pay,” he said.?The school was set up with the help of the Australian embassy, which still has a board member, and is attended by the children of many expatriates, as well as wealthy Indonesians.?
While the men have not been questioned for three weeks, they have been subjected to two makeshift line-ups; a medical examination (which their lawyers were not allowed to attend); a lie-detector test and an interview about their sexual history with a “sex expert.” They said they still had not been presented with any evidence to link them to the alleged rapes, which the parents of three children say took place, multiple times, in a glass-walled, open-plan office area during school hours.
Mr Bantleman said the line-ups involved him standing in a car park beside two Indonesian police investigators (whom the children knew as part of the case), while the children were inside behind tinted windows. He could overhear the children identifying him as the “tall one with the glasses.”
The “sex expert,” Naek L. Tobing, is identified in media reports as an expert on the growing Indonesian problem of micropenises and their link to obesity. Mr Bantleman said he asked him about sexual fantasies, orientation, and history.
The results of the lie-detector test were supposed to be available after the Idul Fitri holiday, which ended last weekend, but the men still have not been told the results.
Mr Bantleman and Mr Ferdi say that, when travelling with police in the car, they had been warned separately that they should confess now because the evidence against them was so strong. “The investigator said: ‘Now we have more evidence to prove that you’re guilty, you should just make this easy on yourself’,” Mr Bantleman said. They also encouraged Mr Ferdi to implicate Mr Bantleman, which he has not done.
The men have had no contact with police investigators since July 23. Even so, a week ago their detention was extended until August 30.?Mr Bantleman said he had no confidence in the investigation. “In a proper investigation, you would assume that the police would go and look at all the facts on both sides,” he said.
“In a country that has a proper legal system… this would have all been cleared up in two days, or two hours, because it’s so far-fetched and so unbelievable that I’m amazed I’m sitting here talking to you.” He is supported by the Canadian embassy. Mr Ferdi said that, as an Indonesian, he felt he was an “easy target.”
The allegations began after one mother came forward to say that her son had been repeatedly sodomised by a number of cleaning staff from an outsourcing company. A second mother came forward and, after changing her story a number of times, eventually implicated teachers. After that, the first mother, who was suing the school for US$125 million, also changed her story and identified teachers. The second mother has also expressed an intention to sue the school. The family of a third child has left the country but has backed the claim about teachers.
Mr Bantleman and Mr Tjiong came under suspicion after the children picked their photographs out of the school yearbook.
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